Self-care? What’s that??
That is exactly what I would’ve said if I saw this blog back in my 20’s and 30’s.
During that time, I was a mom of eleven *yes you heard me right* eleven kids. I cooked three meals a day for a double-digit-sized family, educated seven of my children as a homeschooling mom, kept my house clean (to a fault) and even attempted scrap-booking (never again!!)…all on a shoestring budget and as a wife whose husband had an addiction problem.
When hearing all this, does the work pressure come to mind?? How about crazy?? Yep.
Honestly, I can’t tell you how it all happened every day – how the kids were always fed, how they all learned how to read, how the laundry got done, how the bills got paid – I have no idea. I give the credit to God who gives His Grace for what we need, when we need it. I certainly needed it and He did give it! But what God did not do, and won’t do, was force me to take care of me.
So, while I was taking care of everyone else, I put myself last. While He gave me grace to live my daily life, I applied none of it to myself.
I did not buy myself things.
I did not spend quiet/alone time.
I did not take time for the things that I enjoyed.
I did not stop each day to think about what I needed to refill my ever-emptied tank.
I did not rest.
I did not forgive myself or show myself grace.
I just kept pushing myself to give and give, take care of it all, solve everyone’s problems and fix whatever was broken.
If so, please read my words carefully today. Especially this part:
A life like this slowly destroys the one living it.
I know this because I lived with the consequences of this life. I slowly brought myself to the edge of a total breakdown. I definitely brought myself to total burnout. And then, thank God, I learned a very powerful lesson.
Self-care is not a luxury. It is a responsibility.
In my effort to be a better mom, wife and Christian woman, I denied my own needs for the sake of others. That left no one to take care of me. The body I was given: neglected. The heart I was given: ignored. The energy I needed to replenish: an afterthought. I was setting it all aside to take care of everyone and everything else. I was taking responsibility for everyone but me.
While drowning in this sea, I cried for help and found it. Someone wonderfully wise told me this:
The very best moms, wives, dads, husbands… take really good care of themselves.
That didn’t sound very sacrificial. But I knew it sounded like something I desperately needed to do. So I listened. I began in small ways to take care of myself. I knew that I would be no good to anyone for much longer unless I did!
So, for the first time in my adult life, I put my emotional, mental and physical needs on my list of things to do.
And ya know what I discovered? I had more energy for the ones I loved. I had more patience in times of stress! I had more wisdom for tough situations. By taking responsibility for my own care, I cared for others more effectively. Kind of a paradox but oh, so real.
What about you? Are you approaching burnout? Do you need more energy, patience and wisdom? If so, then you need to take the responsibility of self-care more seriously. I mean, if you don’t do it, who will? And the job really doesn’t belong to anyone else, ya know what I mean?
How can you take care of your self today?